Yesterday, the Oakland Raiders’ first round draft pick Khalil Mack filled in for a vacationing Peter King and wrote a blog for Monday Morning Quarterback. He detailed his path to the NFL and the awe he feels when he looks around the huddle and sees veterans like Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley wearing the same colors as he is. Mack was only offered one college scholarship as he’d played football for one year in high school before beginning his college career at Buffalo.
Mack talked about how, despite the fact that Buffalo was a small school, he really loved his time there. He wrote, “I invested a lot of hard work and time there to get myself to this point. We were not featured on national television as much as other Division I football programs, so I had to be even more impressive in my workouts, practices and games to dominate and distinguish myself as a player.” Mack went on to say that he felt his standout performance in a match up against Ohio State University is what demonstrated to NFL teams that he could thrive against tougher competition.
Mack was born and raised in Fort Pierce, Florida and attended Port Pierce Westwood High School where he had 140 tackles, of which nine were sacks and eight were tackles for a loss of yards. Mack helped to lead the Panthers to a district championship and was named third team All-State in Florida along with first team All-Area. Coming out of high school, Rivals.com rated Mack as a mere two star recruit.
His Buffalo career saw 327 total tackles of which 75 were tackles for losses totaling 268 yards. He recorded 28.5 total sacks for a loss of 217 yards. He also logged four interceptions, 12 passes defended, 16 forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks. Most of these numbers were accumulated during his senior season where he logged 100 tackles, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions, ten passes defended, and five forced fumbles. Mack currently holds three career records at Buffalo which are most tackles for a loss (75), most sacks (28.5), and most forced fumbles (16). He also has two NCAA records as he is tied for first in tackles for loss (75) and has the most forced fumbles (16).
Mack went on to write about how the NFL Scouting Combine was grueling process, but that he walked away with a feeling of brotherhood amongst the prospects and a feeling of respect that all the prospects had for one another. He wrote, “The competition for jobs was high, but we had a common bond and a mutual respect that I know will continue in the NFL.” He goes on to detail his experience in the 2014 NFL Draft and says that the whole experience was just a blur and, despite the fact that the NFL had set up various activities for the draft prospects, Mack felt that it was hard to focus on anything other than which of the 32 teams would select him.
He wrote about how the media interest in combination with the speculation was just indescribable, “Only at the draft did I truly understand the expectations and promise we as draft prospects are bringing to a team and to a city. You realize in those few days that you are not only playing for yourself, your family and your teammates, but for the fans and the city that invest so much to support your success.”
Flash forward to the offseason where Mack was able to participate in organized team activities and mini with the Raiders. He wrote about it saying, “A few weeks ago, I was out on the field for one of my first practices with the Raiders, and I looked around the huddle: Lamarr Woodley. Antonio Smith. Justin Tuck. Charles Woodson. Pat Sims. That’s when it hit me: Wow, I’m going to be on the field with these guys. It was kind of surreal.” Mack goes on saying it seemed like the draft was just yesterday, that he was just waiting to find out where he’d be drafted to and now he was part of the Oakland Raiders. He said, “It’s extremely crazy, but I’m crazy enough to think it’s normal.”
He feels that this opportunity that he has is with an historic franchise and it is a special opportunity. Mack wrote, “The fan base here is incredibly supportive and there is certainly merit to the traditions and mystique of Raider Nation. We have a good team, and I feel fortunate to learn from players I admire and respect.” It sounds like Mack is ready to put in the work and he wants to learn about what it takes in order for him to be successful in the NFL. He looks at it as a tremendous amount of responsibility as well as commitment to succeed both on and off the field.
His blog painted a picture of a rookie who was awed and humbled to be selected by the Raiders and that it’s taken a minute for him to adjust, but he’s ready to work as well as achieve a common goal, bringing wins back for the fan base.